“THE FOXHOUND CEMETERY”
“THE FOXHOUND CEMETERY”
BY: NEAL MURPHY
My father, Cecil Murphy, was an avid foxhunter when I was young. He usually kept four or five Walker foxhounds in a pen behind our house. The dogs were always eager to hop into the back of his pickup truck and be taken into the woods to chase the elusive fox. Dad hunted with them as often as time would permit from the late 1940s until the early 1960s.
One of my father’s favorite places was Boles Field, which was located in Shelby County, Texas, and was accessible only by a graveled dirt road. Each year, the Texas Fox and Wolf Hunters’ Association sponsored a long weekend of events for member hunters. This included several hunts for the dogs and a sort of “beauty pageant” for the hounds. Many of the hunters pitched tents or set up campers and had a great time at this event. My dad and I tried to teach several of his hounds to “show”, but we never had much luck with that.
Over the years as fox hunting began to wane in popularity, these events at Boles Field were eliminated. But, there is one thing that remains there today that I believe is found nowhere else is a cemetery for the more “famous” of the foxhounds. This cemetery was established at the turn of the last century.
At last count, there were twenty-seven dogs buried in the cemetery representing the states of Arkansas, California, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. The cemetery is known as the National Fox Hounds Cemetery. In the dog cemetery is a monument that reads, “This memorial is erected in appreciation of the noted foxhunters and foxhounds in America”.
As I walk through Boles Field today, I can still see part of the old amphitheater where the hounds were shown. It is now located in the Sabine National Forest and contains camping facilities, electrical hook-ups, and a public rest room. A good paved road makes for easy access.
I feel sure that the tall pine trees yearn to hear the sounds of foxhounds chasing the fox again. And they miss the smell of campfires, hot coffee boiling, marshmallows being roasted, and the sounds of hundreds of hunters, their families, and most of all, the presence of Mr. Hinkle Shillings, who was one of the more famous foxhunters in this area of Texas.
The “dog cemetery” is a reminder to us today of the sport of foxhunting which was popular many years ago in East Texas, and the importance of a good foxhound. Unfortunately, the barbed wire fence played a major part in the demise of the sport, but that’s another story.